Asbestos is the name given to a number of naturally occurring, fibrous silicate minerals mined throughout the world. Although a naturally found mineral, its long term use in building materials to fortify structures and improve fire resistance thrust it into the public arena throughout the last half of the 20th century. You can find it in structures such as steam pipes, boilers, furnace ducts, floor tiles, cement sheets, soundproofing or decorative material, patching and joint compounds, roofing shingles, siding and more.

Asbestos exposure becomes a health concern when high concentrations of fibers are inhaled over a long period of time. The critical factor on safety remains whether it is exposed or not and whether you come into contact with it. Asbestos fibers can remain accumulated in the lungs, which over a long period of time can cause serious diseases like lung cancer and mesothelioma. Asbestos material that crumbles easily if handled is more likely to create a health hazard. There is no danger unless fibers are released and inhaled into the lungs.

If you find asbestos inside a house you are buying, you’ll need a specialist to determine its location and risk factor. This is a big job and needs an inspector that your local authority or council can recommend to come visit the property to take a sample or extensively survey your home.